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Sleeping Pills and diatribes.
Short stories about drugs, monsters, serial killers, and poetry about fear and self loathing.
From The Woods
Rain falls on a quiet North East England town. Any of them. All the same. Market towns.
Living in them brings with it a certain kind of numb, wearying ache.
I'm not much of an impressive specimen of a man I know. Perhaps this is why it chose me.
"I am a lonely man, my solitude is true" Words from a song I hear many times. Even when I'm surrounded by my best friends I am alone, an isolated freak. Though there is nothing freakish in my appearance, at least when I ask the opinions of others. The true freakishness is in my head. I've learnt to keep it there under mental lock and key, because I know no one desires to listen to the ramblings of a deranged, deluded autistic. One incapable of even basic human functions like finding employment
I have to find my own means of filling the vast expanses of time. Reading, when I am able can be a balm for a time. But eventually the restlessness compels me to move. Music moves with me, when I can help it.
I am fond of walking alone in the woods, no matter the conditions. Often I find myself confused by the seemingly senseless felling of trees, making the place more open. But I know I don't govern any aspect of that. I'm just there to walk.
Well I was. My walks were for a time, an escape, my own private world to retreat into, a natural fortress by virtue of size and the numerous hiding places.
However, this serenity slowly began to break. I noticed a feeling of being observed. Weak and flickering at first, a mere prickling on the back of my neck. When I was a child and birdwatching with my father, I'd often wonder if the birds could sense us, with binoculars and scope trained on them.
It grew from there. I'd feel it closer. Hear the snapping of twigs and slapping of mud, with nothing and no one there to have done it. Then this began to abate for a while, only to be replaced by a new kind of watching. As if all directions, all trees were staring at me.
It was some weeks before I returned to the woods and the hazy warmth of summer began to be replaced by the wet lick of winter and the temporary death of the woods. It gave me even greater privacy. Before there was the occasional intrusion on my world by families somehow enjoying a day out or some group of youths, off to make some fire and get drunk. It annoyed me but I could not begrudge this. But now the most I'd see might be a single walker with a dog.
But now it seemed that I was definitely being followed.
A man of normal mind, of sound mind and who is possessed of friends who would go to such lengths for a prank would dismiss it as such. But I know I have friends who I can barely count on to see me more than two days in a month and I am not of sound mind.
Still, I would take care to avoid rousing the anger of this follower. Maybe a vagrant taken to the woodland. So I began to smoke less whilst walking there and doing less to disturb the flora and fauna, even less than I had before. Still it wouldn't cease.
An argument one night had led me to enter the woods, a long route home to let me stop being so high strung, to send my friend a message apologising. All thoughts of that message being sent came abruptly to a halt when I remembered where I was. I hadn't been here at night since I came aware of my being observed. And I was too far down the path to turn back. I had nothing but the squelching of my boots in the mud of the path to keep rhythm. I listened to it intently, out of resignation.
That's when I noticed the squelching steps from behind me, almost in time with me but just out of it. I knew I couldn't break and run, because those steps behind me would change to a run and inevitably I'd slip on a stone or the mud or a branch would trip me. I couldn't stop and let it catch up with me either. The woodland scents so familiar now seemed so very menacing. Moss, leaf litter, the trees themselves. I pushed on, letting the thing behind me keep it's poor copy of the beat of my heels. All the way to reaching a bridge, the bridge, the first sign of coming back into town proper. My feet made the proper, familiar thunk thunk sound on the wood of it. The things feet made a splut splut. The dawning realisation of my pursuers inhumanity was a snapping point. I felt my flight response kick in, hard. I managed to prevent myself from running. The floor turned to an aggregate of mud and rocks, my boots making the hard clacking sounds on them, the thing squelching on. Finally reaching paved road, concrete, my footsteps gained a definite clatter now. Those behind me became gradually weaker, eventually stopping around halfway up the hill. Something inside me stirred, a bravery. I made my way back down the incline. I saw the shape of a man, made up of wood, leaves, mud, ferns, moss. My height. My build. In my shape. A crude mockery.
I only then ran. and I don't go back to the woods at night. Because I guess at their intentions. I know they'd be better at living my life than I am anyway.

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